It’s long been a difficult thing for those outside of leftism to understand: the political left of the western world has a close relationship with Islam. On the surface, it doesn’t appear to make any sense, as the left prides itself as being tolerant and free of mysticism, while at the same time championing what is easily the most mystical religion, and the religion that plays the least nicely with any of the other religions.
What explanation is there for the left’s close relationship with Islam?
Nearly any political ideology that exists today has an image to maintain. The political right is embodied by conservative principles and believes in limited government, among other things, and is usually represented by the Republican party. The Green party is characterized largely by environmental responsibility and various socialist principles. We’d be dealing in some pretty broad generalities in describing these political ideologies with such few words, but these descriptions are pretty accurate.
So then, what does the political left and liberalism in general have a reputation for? Helping the little guy. The left’s positive image hinges largely in helping the disadvantaged and downtrodden, which includes religious and racial minorities. Because Islam is a religious minority in the western world, they’re a natural choice for those looking for groups to stand up for to maintain a helping-the-little-guy image. What’s more, the left’s traditional political adversaries have a history of being critical of the actions of Muslims, the adherents of Islam. Because of this, it would be easier for the left to cast themselves as coming to the little guy’s defense.
Let’s be honest here: Anywhere that Islam is in establishment control, they are not about helping religious minorities. Under Sharia law, the law of the Islamic world, Christians and Jews are treated as second-class citizens or worse, other religious groups are treated poorly and sometimes singled out for death, atheists are nearly always singled out for death, and so are homosexuals, in spite of the fact that they are another group that the left champions.
This being the case, it would seem to make even less sense for the left to come to Islam’s defense. For the left to continue to defend Islam in spite of its abuse of non-Muslims, they would have to overlook not only these abuses, but also the fundamental tenets of Islam that call for these abuses.
That’s exactly what happens.
But why? Why did the left get behind Islam to begin with if what Islam is about is diametrically opposed to the principles of western civilization?
Simply put, it’s because back when the left started to get behind Islam, the abuses of Sharia law were pretty much unknown to the western world, and as religious minorities, there was more incentive for Muslims to live in relative non-belligerence with the community around them as an alternative religion. As it appeared in the public eye, the Islamic religion was just another religious identity that was capable of living at peace with the people around them. Thus, they were “little guys”, and it would have been very easy to cast anyone who objected to them as religiously-intolerant oppressors.
But, that was then, this is now. Islam currently has a reputation for being a volatile ideology that doesn’t play well with the other religions, especially anywhere that they exist in sizable numbers. In fact, it would appear as though their belligerence is directly proportional with their representation in a population.
One would think that making the choice to prop up a violent ideology as an underdog was a mistake. This being the case, it would seem productive for the left to go back on it’s choice to do so. So, why aren’t they doing this? Why does the western political left so insist on continuing to defend the Islamic ideology?
The thing is, mistakes are not easy to admit having made. This especially holds true for political ideologies, which must maintain the image that they stand for, but also must maintain that they won’t make terrible mistakes against their own values, and in so doing, betray the trust of the people who view them as leaders. To this end, the left continues to insist that treating Islam as an underdog wasn’t a mistake.
Another aspect of this matter is that the left would otherwise be wanting for a religion associated with their image. This is very important, as most people in the western world are religious, and have historically been leery of those who do not identify as having a religious identity. This holds especially true in the United States, which is sometimes referred to as the most religious country in the world. Religious affiliation is so important to the electorate that, to this very day, there has not been a US president that has not professed Christianity.
Generally speaking, the western right has historically professed Christian values, a fact that makes Christians have a very easy time identifying with the right, and those on the right usually identify as being Christian. While those on the left do identify as being Christian, it’s hard to reconcile many of the values of Christianity with the liberalism that the left embraces. When the left expresses a religious identity, while it may be in many cases sincere, it’s often a nominal profession.
The left’s relationship with Islam is in large part due to the fact that, without an expressed acceptance for the practice of a religious ideology, they’d appear non-religious, which would alienate a population that is mostly religious.
So then, why Islam? When there are so many other religious identities out there, why does the left continue to defend what would be, if left to its own devices, the bully of the playground?
In a sense, it was the right that provoked it. While the right has good reason to be critical of the Islamic ideology, that criticism provokes a response from those who traditionally serve as their check. Because the left has an image of being the defender of the little guy, it’s easy to come to the defense of a minority group that appears misunderstood, especially when it’s one’s political opponents that are supplying the criticism.
But there’s more to it. The left doesn’t just defend Islam, it respects it. It respects it like it respects no other religion out there. The left could get behind Jews, and historically, they tried. But the right has a great deal of sympathy for the Jews by nature of their own Christian background and the theology that the two share. In the American south, Jewish job applicants have been trusted more than any other religious group. As for other religious groups such as Sikhs, Buddhists, and Hindus, they’re still relatively obscure in the western religious landscape, and the right doesn’t as largely criticize these groups in the same manner as they do Islam.
What is behind the left’s respect for Muslims and the Islamic religion?
Simple psychology tells us that people have more respect for other people when there is a connotation of consequence with upsetting them. Most religions teach principles like patience and forgiveness. This is especially true of Christianity. There isn’t much expectation of an immediate backlash for disappointing a person whose religion emphasizes mercy, patience and forgiveness. When one understands this, they have a pretty sound explanation for why Christians are singled out for mistreatment in many places where they’re a minority.
When it comes to Muslims, the expectation is far different. If someone is going to come at you in an angry fit because you put bacon in their chicken sandwich, you’d be more likely to keep the bacon far from their chicken sandwich. If someone wants you to keep alcohol away from your gathering because their religion forbids it, most would respect his request if his religion says it’s incumbent on believers to fight non-believers. If someone complains about your music and dancing because their religion forbids both, you’d wonder what’s wrong with their religion. But if that person can make you sorry that you decided to smart-mouth them, you’d be considerably less daring.
Again, people tend to have more respect for those with whom there is a connotation of consequence with upsetting them. This being the case, it’s easy to see why people are more reluctant to step on a Muslim’s toes than those of a Christian.
Considering all this, it’s much easier to understand why the western political left is sympathetic to Muslims in spite of the fact that, if Muslims were to call the shots, their policies would stand in opposition to many, if not most, of the values of liberalism, and of western civilization.
Leftists are enabling a great danger to western civilization and the world at large. The sooner they understand this and take the necessary corrective actions, the better.